How To Build Leaping Lights Arches - Strategies for designing and wrapping your arch lights - Tips for assigning channels Press F5 to see full screen slide show mode By: Jeff Ostroff LauderdaleChristmas.com Version 1.6 June 11, 2008 Our Arches 2007 only white channel on Our arches with white & Blue channels on
WARNING: The PVC pipe MUST say “SCH 40” on it as shown above. If not, do not buy that pipe! NOT Schedule 40 Schedule 40 has thicker walls Photo above shows the thicker walled, more rigid “SCH 40” PVC that you need. WARNING: You MUST use Schedule 40 PVC pipe. Do not get bogus thin walled white PVC pipe at Lowes. Their pipe is ¾” but does not say “Schedule 40”, a much thicker walled and more rigid pipe. You need this extra thickness to keep your PVC arch from sagging. This is especially problematic when you wrap more than 800 lights across each pipe section on arches > 10 ft. Sch 40 should be used for 15 foot and 20 foot arches, but you might get away without SCH 40 on 10’ long arches. The PVC pipe MUST say “SCH 40” on it as shown below. If not, do not buy that pipe!
How Big Should I Make My arches? How Tall will it be? It’s difficult for most people to calculate height of arch, so we experimented with 3 sizes that provide graceful arch with proper height and comfortable stress forces. Strategy: Come up with a size arch that looks good for your yard, then choose from 3 sizes shown on next page.
3 Arch Sizes For You to Consider: 9 ft MEDIUM: 15 ft arch length 7’ 6” PVC pipe MUST BE SCH 40 7’ 6” PVC pipe LARGE: 20 ft arch length most popular 10’ PVC pipe MUST BE SCH 40 10’ PVC pipe MUST BE SCH 40 (2) 10 foot white ¾”SCH 40 PVC pipes (most stores only carry 10’ length)) (1) ¾” female threaded coupler (1) ¾” male threaded coupler Requires: (2) 10 foot white ¾” SCH 40 PVC pipes cut to 7’ 6” each (1) ¾” female threaded coupler (1) ¾” male threaded coupler Requires: (1) 10 foot white ¾” PVC You can also use softer gray electrical PVC On this arch. Not stiff enough for 15’ or 20’ arches. Small: 10 ft arch length Requires: 6 ft 41” tall Single 10’ PVC pipe 5 ft tall 12 ft 7 ft tall
EXAMPLE: 8 Channel MEDIUM 15 ft arch length 9 ft 5 ft tall 7’ 6” SCH 40 PVC pipe MUST BE SCH 40! 7’ 6” SCH 40 PVC pipe MUST BE SCH 40! Channel #1 Channel #2 Channel #3 Channel #4 Channel #5 Channel #6 Channel #7 Channel #8 8 strings of lights Each string 100 lights Total # Lights: 800 Channels 9-16 To next arch Leave 4”- 6” space at ends Leave 4”- 6” space at ends
16 Channel Medium/Large 15 Foot Long Advanced Design: LauderdaleChristmas.com Solution 2007 (2560 Lights) This is the 15’ arch we built for our Christmas lights display Stats: 8 Channels of White LEDs mixed with 8 Channels of blue LEDs Each Channel: 2 strings of 100 White LED lights (Costco) 2 strings of 60 Blue LED lights (Sam’s Club) (Logistics & availability determined where we bought the LEDs) Total # Lights Per Arch: 2560 Lights Channels 9-16 to Blue LEDs 9 ft 5 ft tall 7’ 6” SCH 40 PVC pipe 7’ 6” SCH 40 PVC pipe Channel #1&9 Channel #2&10 Channel #3&11 Channel #4&12 Channel #5&13 Channel #6&14 Channel #7&15 Channel #8&16 Leave 4”- 6” space at ends Leave 4”- 6” space at ends
16 Channel Smaller 10 Foot Long Advanced Design: LauderdaleChristmas.com Solution 2007 (1760 Lights) This is the 10’ arch we built for our Christmas lights display 8 Channels of White LEDs mixed with 8 Channels of blue LEDs Each Channel: 1 strings of 100 White LED lights (Costco) 2 strings of 60 Blue LED lights (Sam’s Club) (Logistics & availability determined where we bought the LEDs) Total # Lights Per Arch: 1760 Lights 6 ft 3’ 6”tall 1 Single 10 foot long SCH 40 PVC pipe Channel #1&9 Channel #2&10 Channel #3&11 Channel #4&12 Channel #5&13 Channel #6&14 Channel #7&15 Channel #8&16 Leave 4”- 6” space at ends Leave 4”- 6” space at ends Channels 9-16 to Blue LEDs
Below are 2 of our blue & white arches. On the left our medium sized 15 foot long PVC arch 5’ tall, endpoints spaced 9 feet apart. On the right, our 10 foot long arch 3’6” tall, endpoints spaced 6 feet apart.
Step 1: Build 3 of these wood PVC pipe support jigs out of 2 x 4 studs or other thin wood and drill a 1 ½” hole for the PVC to pass through. You can make the hole as big as you like. These jigs will support your PVC pipes as you wrap. Your lights. Nothing fancy, it just needs to stand on a table and support the PVC. Upside down folding chair works too. You can rest the PVC pipe on the “X” formed by the crossing legs. Step 2: Clean both ends of your PVC pipe before you start. PVC cement will NOT Stick unless surface is squeaky clean! You can slightly sand it to roughen it up too. Step 3 (Medium & Large Arches Only): Apply PVC cement to one PVC pipe and slide on the ¾” threaded FEMALE coupler. Then get the other PVC pipe and cement on a threaded MALE ¾” coupler. Now screw both pipes together to form your 15’ or 20’ arch. Step By Step Assembly Instructions
Step 4: Get some 1” L-brackets, and put 2 together using a bolt and nuts. The stack of nuts is used to insert this bracket assembly into the chuck of your drill so the drill can grip the bracket to spin it CLOCKWISE To keep the nuts tightened down. Making the coupler to the drill Step 5: Then drill through the bracket and PVC pipe to create a cross section pass feed through for your nut and bolt to secure the bracket to the PVC pipe. Step 6: Attach the bracket to the PVC pipe through the holes that you just drilled, using a nut and long bolt. The stack of nuts you see allows the drill chuck to grip better. Tighten all the nuts, and glue if needed or try a locking nut. Now you are ready to insert this bracket assembly into your drill, set for motorized spinning of your PVC pipes to help you wrap the lights onto the arches. Make sure your drill is set to spin CLOCKWISE or you’ll loosen the nuts on your bracket assembly.
Step 8: Line up 15 feet of tables and place your 3 PVC support jigs on the tables. Then pass the PVC pipes through the Jigs until they are supported. Duct tape the wooden support jigs to the table. Some people use folding chairs upsidedown. Step 9: Connect your drill to the other end of the PVC pipe to the bracket assembly that you built. You are now ready to start wrapping your lights! Step 7: With your PVC pipe laid out, mark off 6” from each end as “keep outs” for the lights. For this 8 channel arch, get a magic marker and mark off the PVC pipe into 8 equal segment lengths that you will wrap your wires around: 20 ft arch: Use 2.37 feet per segment (28 ½”) 15 ft arch: Use 1.75 feet per segment (21”) 10 ft arch: Use 1.125” per segment (13 ½”) Marking the pipes for wrapping & assembly setup No Lights here!
Step 10: Start by taping the first set of lights to the PVC pipe about 4” to 6” from the end. This will allow clearance off wet grass in southern climates, or snow in northern climates. Also pre-label plugs >> When wrapping lights, always make sure they are on to make sure they still work as you wrap them. Step 11: Have a second person operate the drill at a constant, manageable speed, allowing you to feed the lights into a tight spiral onto the PVC pipe as it rotates. Keep an even tension while wrapping at an angle to avoid previous wrapped lights. You should be continuously moving previous light bulbs out of the way, so that you do not wrap over and block any light bulbs. Every 10 wraps or so, stop and push the loops tight against previous loops. You should not see white PVC shining through the spiral loops. Ready to start wrapping lights!
. . Soldered on SPT1 or SPT2 green wire Cut enough wire to leave 5 foot cord Tape wires to PVC pipe To avoid bulk extension cables, cut your own thin SPT1 wire Step 12: Snip off the power plug from the end of the first set of wrapped lights. We will solder on a length of SPT1 wire running down the PVC pipe, and re-solder the same connector back onto the other end of the cable. Step 13: Cut a length of SPT1 wire long enough to run down the length of the PVC pipe and providing a 5 foot extension past the PVC pipe as shown in drawing at top. Solder this SPT1 wire to the end of the light string where you cut off the plug. Step 14: Label plugs as you finish each one. You connect them to your lighting controller later. Example: White Ch 8. Try to use plugs that allow other plugs to connect on top for future versatility, connecting multiple arches to same channels. I used the wrong kind here. I’ll re-solder different ones on later.
Tip: Wherever your lights or wires might come in contact with a jig or support, wrap them in smooth packing tape or duct tape to prevent damaging your lights from rubbing against the support. Let the chafing and scrapes rub against the tape, not your lights and cables. Tip: Pre-cut and size all your custom made SPT1 cords ahead of time so you’ll have them ready when you wrap lights, and minimize down time. Have all your labels already attached to your plugs. Pre cut all your pieces of tape that you’ll need. After the first channel or 2, you’ll develop a good system to pull this off. Have one or 2 other people help you. It goes fastest with 3 people. Tip: When splicing your SPT1 wire pairs, make sure they are at least 1” apart to eliminate risk of ever shorting together. So cut one wire longer than the other. Then you can solder and wrap with electrical tape or use heat shrink tubing.
Here’s our 15 foot long, 5’ tall arch…Each Channel: 2 strings of 100 White LED lights (Costco) 2 strings of 60 Blue LED lights (Sam’s Club) Total # Lights Per Arch: 2560 Lights
Each Channel: 2 strings of 100 White LED lights (Costco) 2 strings of 60 Blue LED lights (Sam’s Club) Total # Lights Per Arch: 2560 Lights
Alternative Method For Wrapping Light Strings: Tater Twister Some people use the base motor from the Presto tater Twister instead of a power drill. The base motor turns at a slower pace, and you can rig it up with a foot switch for single person wrapping of lights. No longer sold in stores, you can only get from sellers on eBay or Amazon.
32 Channels Total LauderdaleChristmas.com controller hookup solution for 2 arches You can use the same controller to control multiple arches, just plug them all in parallel! Arch #1 Arch #2 8 White Channels 8 Blue Channels 8 White Channels 8 Blue Channels